FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 2001(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
NORTH CAROLINA DEVELOPER AND ARCHITECT SETTLE
HOUSING LAWSUIT WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Greenville, North Carolina developer and architect today entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve allegations that Bradford Park Apartments in Greenville were designed and constructed without being accessible to persons with disabilities, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The complaint and consent decree, which were filed today in the United States District Court in Raleigh, North Carolina, allege that Aldridge & Southerland Builders Inc. and Rivers & Associates Inc., the architecture firm that designed the apartment complex, violated the Fair Housing Act. The Department said the companies violated the Act because, as designed and constructed, the common use areas of the complex and the individual apartment units were inaccessible to persons using wheelchairs. Under the Fair Housing Act, apartment complexes and condominiums with four or more units must include, among other things, accessible common amenities such as pools and clubhouses, doors that are wide enough to accommodate persons who use wheelchairs, bathroom walls that have reinforcements for the installation of grab bars, and bathrooms and kitchens that are large enough for people who use wheelchairs.
"The Fair Housing Act is essential to ensuring that persons with disabilities are able to find accessible housing no matter where they live," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We commend the defendants for recognizing the deficiencies in the design and construction of Bradford Park and fully cooperating with the Justice Department in resolving this matter."
Under the agreement announced today, Aldridge & Southerland Builders Inc. will, among other things, make accessibility retrofits to Bradford Park and construct apartment units in future projects with enhanced accessibility features. Rivers & Associates Inc. will, among other things, pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States. The agreement also requires that the defendants provide training to their employees on the requirements of the Fair Housing Act and to certify to the Justice Department that any future design plans and construction comply with the Act.
United States Attorney Janice McKenzie Cole said, "Accessible housing is a basic need for independent living and an improved quality of life for persons with disabilities. We must ensure that there is compliance with the laws to protect their rights."
The case was originally brought to the attention of the Justice Department by the North Carolina Fair Housing Center, a fair housing organization located in Raleigh, North Carolina. After receiving the complaint, the United States conducted an extensive investigation which revealed violations of the Act.